Improving client service and driving operational efficiency in transaction banking: opposing agendas or one and he same?

Planning, executing and monitoring financial transactions present challenges for corporate treasurers on a daily basis. Not least are the multiple banks, accounts and portals they have to juggle; the lack of common standards across the different banks and systems; and the array of regulations they need to cover off across borders. New research of corporates around the globe, commissioned by CGI, tells us that although basic bank services are satisfactory, rationalised access (via a single token login) and a multi-bank portal to bank services are high on corporates’ wish lists.

Banks have been spending a lot in recent years on refocusing their transaction banking operations in a bid to win and retain quality new business. But where has this money ended up? By and large the focus has been on simplifying products and better front end coverage and access. The message hits home that customer service is essential to success. However, the research is telling us all is not well.

In the CGI survey, over 30% of the 351 corporates questioned said they maintained more than 150 bank accounts over multiple portals with multiple logins. Little wonder that 60% of the same audience place high importance on technology when selecting a bank. No doubt it is partly in the hope that it will help simplify their own processes as they centralise and streamline treasury activities. But while satisfied with some aspects, they are less so with others. So what can be done to take the next leap in delivering a better and differentiated customer experience?

The next stage for transaction banking lies in improving the integration of back end processes. Most of these are supported by independent business applications which do not share customer data and effectively compete with each other to deliver services. Banks are assuming that corporates are satisfied with transacting and tracking one product or even one bank at a time. At the same time the expense of maintaining fragmented and replicated legacy applications is becoming commercially prohibitive for some banks. A more integrated approach is needed to yield the significant cost savings available for banks. Yet, from a customer standpoint, banks also need to structure their service offerings to align with the customer business context at the point of the transaction